My Water Legacy: A Match Made in Wastewater Heaven

February 14, 2017

Featured

WEF inspires a love connection

It’s one of those fairy-tale romances you thought only happened in movies.

Growing together through wastewater and engineering

Lauren Zuravnsky and Chris Wilson met while participating in the Virginia Water Environment Association Student Design Competition. Photo courtesy of Wilson.

Lauren Zuravnsky and Chris Wilson met while participating in the Virginia Water Environment Association Student Design Competition. Photo courtesy of Wilson.

It begins with two young and ambitious environmental engineering students. Add a wastewater design competition, and sparks were sure to fly.

Chris Wilson and Lauren Zuravnsky first crossed paths in 2005. Both were students in the Environmental and Water Resources Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Va.) and met while participating in the Virginia Water Environment Association (VWEA) Student Design Competition. A 2-year courtship ensued.

As only seems fitting, the pair got engaged following WEFTEC 2007 in San Diego. Now married and parents of a 3-year-old son, they both enjoy careers at Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD; Virginia Beach, Va.).

As design and construction project manager, Zuravnsky leads wastewater and stormwater management projects, including the $14 million Bridge Street water pump station replacement project now under construction in Hampton, Va.

Still, Zuravnsky’s path to a wastewater career was perhaps not as clear as it may have seemed. “I have been environmentally conscious since a young age but did not realize that I could pursue a career that would align with that interest until I was halfway through my undergraduate civil engineering degree,” she said.

Wilson sees his position in process engineering and research at HRSD as a way to blend multiple interests.

“I felt that pursuing a career in environmental engineering and wastewater treatment was the best way to combine my interest in science and biology with a practical career as an engineer,” Wilson said.

Making time for WEF

Zuravnsky and Wilson both work in the water sector at Hampton Roads Sanitation District (Virginia Beach, Va.). Photo courtesy of Wilson.

Zuravnsky and Wilson both work in the water sector at Hampton Roads Sanitation District (Virginia Beach, Va.). Photo courtesy of Wilson.

Life today is busy in the Wilson-Zuravnsky household. That doesn’t stop them, however, from devoting much of their spare time to supporting the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.).

Staying true to her roots, Zuravnsky has helped lead the WEFTEC Student Design Competition for the past 9 years and has chaired the Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) Student Design Competition subcommittee since 2011. From 2013 to 2015, she was a Young Professionals representative on the VWEA board of directors.

For these and various other leadership positions, Zuravnsky was named the VWEA Outstanding Young Professional in 2015 and WEF Outstanding Young Water Environment Professional in 2016.

Wilson also has been busy volunteering. He served as SYPC subcommittee chair for the Student Paper Competition from 2006 to 2011 and served as Young Professional ad-hoc vice chair of the WEF Residuals and Biosolids Committee in 2012. He currently is vice chair of the Residuals and Biosolids Conference technical program symposium and remains involved with various WEFTEC workshop presentations as a speaker and moderator.

Wilson (left) and Zuravnsky (right) hope to teach their 3-year-old son to care about the environment. Photo courtesy of Wilson.

Wilson (left) and Zuravnsky (right) hope to teach their 3-year-old son to care about the environment. Photo courtesy of Wilson.

Zuravnsky credits the volunteer efforts to her community values and environmental awareness. “I continue to work in this sector because I value protecting the environment and supporting smart growth of communities,” she said.

As for a second generation of WEF members entering the family, Wilson and Zuravnsky say their 3-year-old son is a bit too young to worry about careers, but they are willing to keep an open mind.

“We would be happy if he grew to care about the environment and [appreciate] water’s valuable role, and to have a desire to help others,” Zuravnsky said. “That may lead him to choose to work in the water sector.”

                        — Mary Bufe, WEF Highlights

WEF Highlights Presents My Water Legacy Families

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) is bringing attention to the value of membership and tradition of working in the water sector.

The #MyWaterLegacy social media campaign and WEF Highlights articles feature the accomplishments and contributions of members who have passed down the tradition of actively participating in WEF and working in the water sector. The WEF Legacy Family will appear in an ongoing WEF Highlights series. Read the series by searching for the keyword MyWaterLegacy.

Do you know of a family with multiple generations of WEF members and water sector professionals? Contact Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights editor, at jfulcher@wef.org.

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